- So you're a tiny little company. It's you and your two co-founders. You're working on your first prototype, and that first product that you're going to go to market with is sort of front of mind. What are you going to look like 10 years from now, when you're a company with a thousand or 1500 people, you've got customers all over the world, you've got a broad and diverse product set? Now, spending a lot of time thinking about that is probably not the best use of your time at this stage where you're spending 100 hours a week trying to get that first product out, but spending zero amount of your time thinking about that is a mistake.
The reason it's a mistake is that you want to have a sense of where you're going with the product and your product family, you want to have a longterm vision and sort of the notion of scalability of that product is really important. Scalability is a word that's used a lot in the technology field in terms of the scalability of technology that's being created. You know, can you build this in such a way that many people can use it? Think about a company like Facebook when it was just at the very beginning and it only had people from Harvard using it, to Facebook today, and the amount of technological energy that had to go into the product to make it scalable on that dimension, but it works with any kind of product.
You're coming out with a new type of vegan jerky, you like beef jerky but you've decided you're vegan, and all the existing vegan jerky sucks, and you've decided that you're going to create the next great vegan jerky, and the neat thing is that if you wander down the aisles of Whole Foods today, there are non-beef jerky, type, dry meat substitute things, but you don't like any of them and you know lots of other vegans that want that.
If you're only selling into your local grocery store, and you're only selling into your local market, and the product that you're building is really expensive and difficult to build and package, there will be no scalability. On the other hand, if you can envision what it's like to be in every single Whole Foods store in the world, and if you can envision how it would be like to sell directly from your website and directly through Amazon, and the packaging of the product, the distribution of the product, the pricing of the product, all of a sudden, it will change what you're actually building on day one and what that product looks like.
Understanding how to scale your business is something that you'll learn continually over the life of your business, but starting with a view of what it could look like when the business is very very big, is a really useful place to begin with, as you're coming to market with that first product.
- Define “shiny object syndrome.”
- Identify your customer’s pain.
- Determine the scalability of a product.
- Recall the best time to initiate customer acquisition.
- Review the differences between a passionate employee and an obsessed employee.
- Recognize the benefits of domain experience when building a founding team.